The power of daily reflections
In the summer of 2020, when COVID and various protests were wreaking havoc on our daily existence, something happened that is still impacting me to this day.
It started with the work I do in campus ministry. Due to the pandemic restrictions, we were not meeting in person that summer, and thus everything moved online. The student leaders and I decided to ramp up our Instagram presence with a mix of fun, informative, and spiritual posts. I said I could create some Scripture-based reflections, and the students covered the other areas.
When I started praying about what to post, I got a strong sense that the posts needed to be focused on encouragement. All the angst, anxiety, and isolation coupled with the anger, fear, and confusion of the times had me feeling really heavy of heart, and I had a feeling that others were feeling the same way.
I decided to delve into the ancient practice of Lectio Divina with the daily readings to see if I could glean some encouraging words from the Lord. The way Lectio Divina works is you read the Scripture and pay attention to words and phrases that stand out to you. My first attempt was a success, and I found an encouraging verse in the Psalm. I created an image to go with a short reflection for the post and when I shared it on the campus ministry account, I said: “Daily reflection by the Campus Minister.”
Here is what the post looked like:
In prayer this morning, I was feeling despair over all the unrest, the pandemic, and individuals I know having hard times. I turned to the daily readings and found this gem of a response: “Lord, show us Your mercy and love.” It is my prayer for today.
It also brought to mind this verse: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23
The curious thing is that after I posted the reflection, I realized that I said: “daily reflection.” I had not planned on doing a daily post — I was thinking just a couple times a week, but I had a sense God prompted the word “daily,” and so I stuck with it.
It has now been more than three years of daily reflecting on the Mass readings and making an Instagram post. What started as a way to assist students during the pandemic has become one of the most profound spiritual endeavors of my life.
I am really good at starting spiritual practices but really bad at sticking with them. This is, by far, the longest I have ever stuck with reading the Bible or daily prayer. This level of consistency has impacted me in many ways. It transformed my relationship with God simply by spending time with Him daily. My experience of Mass is completely different because I more deeply feel the rhythm of the Church’s liturgical seasons and the way I see the world has changed because I see more clearly with the eyes of faith. Most of all, this practice has deeply increased my grasp on the heart of God for His people that shines through the pages of Scripture.
For me, one of the strong motivations to stick with this practice, especially in the beginning, was the external accountability to live up to the daily commitment.
If you too struggle to stick with a spiritual practice, I encourage you to find a friend or two to join you in the commitment. Maybe you agree to attend Mass together one extra time a week or to send a text at the end of the day to let them know you finished your prayers.
Community is essential in the life of faith. We are all walking together towards heaven — let’s help each other out along the way.